We say "thing" because Vanderhall doesn't actually call it a car.
A few years ago, we had a chance to drive a three-wheeled autocycle from Vanderhall. Since then, the Utah-based company has released additional models like the one-seat Speedster and the more luxurious Carmel. The 2020 Carmel is now available at Vanderhall dealers around the country, offering numerous improvements over the Venice we drove a few years ago.
"The new 2020 Vanderhall Carmel is a response to customer and dealer input we have received since launching our Venice model in 2016," says Vanderhall marketing director Daniel Boyer. "It adds doors to simplify ingress and egress, plus offers provisions for a removable cap shade. Vanderhall only does one thing: make American-made autocycles. The new Carmel shows that we are constantly evolving."
Vanderhall has always used GM-sourced turbocharged engines but has now ditched the old 1.4-liter mill in favor of a larger and more powerful 1.5-liter unit (likely the same one used in the Chevrolet Malibu and Equinox). But don't let the engine's humble origins fool you because Vanderhall knows how to make a tiny, eco-minded four-banger sound like it just came out of a WRC rally car. The Carmel is rated at 194 horsepower (an improvement of 14 hp over the Venice) going out to the front wheels through a GM 6T40 sequential six-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters.
We enjoyed the sill-mounted shifter found on the Venice but since the Carmel features rear-hinged suicide doors, Vanderhall needed to switch to conventional paddle shifters. Four-piston performance brakes come standard, as does cruise control, Bluetooth, a heater, and heated seats. 0-60 mph takes just 4.5 seconds and the top speed is 138 mph.
The 2020 Carmel is available in three trim levels. Customers who plan to customize their Carmel can order the base builder's-level Blackjack model for $34,950. It includes only the bare minimum essentials including 18-inch wheels and matte black paint because Vanderhall assumes you will put a wrap on it. Even the electronics are left out so you can install your own. Most customers will opt for the $39,950 Standard Carmel, which adds 19-inch wheels, tan V-Tex synthetic material on the seats, and a choice of Vintage Silver Metallic or Poseidon Blue paint. Paddle-shifters and a cap shade are also available as dealer-installed options.
The GT is the most expensive Carmel starting at $43,950. It includes the paddle-shifters and cap sunshade as standard and adds a shorter windshield, tan leather interior, stainless-steel pedals, and boost and transmission-gear gauges. Vanderhall will offer the Carmel GT in two colors: Ruby Metallic (pictured here) and Pearl White.